I know that personally, when I see "FREE". "exclusive", "special offer", or "hot deals!" I feel like the person/company saying it thinks I'm a complete idiot to fall for some meaningless marketing words meant to excite me. When I worked for a newspaper designing ads, all of the small business owners used these kinds of (in my opinion) cheap, pushy, often meaningless "flashy" phrases in their ads.

When designing these ads I was thinking "Are people really so stupid to fall for this? Isn't everyone intelligent enough to see through word usage like this, designed to make you excited or impressed?" - When I'm on the user end of such a marketing tactic I feel totally patronized.

Have studies been done on this? Or can anyone explain the effectiveness based on professional experience? Its done so much that I have to assume that most people don't mind it, but I'm just wondering if any research has been done in this area. Can someone explain the effectiveness of this strategy, or the results on UX?

  • Yes, studies have been done on some of these words. Free, You, Because, and New are examples.
    – JeromeR
    Dec 18, 2015 at 0:25
  • They do put me off (especially exclamation marks) but I couldn't find any studies with a quick Google search. There are other usability factors which will affect your sales though. blog.kissmetrics.com/7-usability-mistakes Dec 22, 2015 at 10:24

1 Answer 1


As my manager says:

Half of the population is more stupid than the other half.

Even if the statement is true, it doesn't really explain why some are more likely to fall for advertisement than others. It's just a cruel fact of life. However if we are in a state of mind where we know that we need something or want something - we are more likely to listen to advertisement.

Some words are better than others in advertisement. We want to feel special, and that it's a bargain or even free, and that someone guarantees that this is a valid product or service and that we get value for money. Have you ever heard that you can "save" money by buying? Thought so, and it's very interesting since you are expected to have more money when you save, not less, which is what happens when you buy something.

But what about the words?

Test the following 30 “magic marketing words” in your next email, social media or blog post, on a direct-mail postcard or website to see which yields the best response.

  1. You – Write as though you’re speaking to the customer and about the customer, not about yourself.

  2. Because – Give customers a reason why they need to take action.

  3. Free – “Because” we all like free things, right?

  4. Value – This implies customers are getting something versus losing something (i.e. money when you say “cost” or “price”).

  5. Guaranteed – Give customers a guarantee to minimize risk perception, so they feel they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

  6. Amazing – Customers will respond to something that is incredible.

  7. Easy – Make it simple for customers to take the next step in the purchasing process, and let them know how much easier life will be with your product or service.

  8. Discover – This implies there is something new and unknown to the customer, something that has supreme benefits and gives them an edge.

  9. Act now – Motivate an immediate response with a limited-time offer.

  10. Everything included/everything you need – This establishes that your product or service is all your customers will have to buy in order to achieve their goal.


Source: The 30 Magic Marketing Words You Should Be Using

So we need to have the right words. And we need to place them in the right order:

An effective use of words that is rather unethical but often used in advertising is using logical fallacies. These fallacies, "tricks of the trade," are misleading and are not sound reasoning, based as they are on word choice and syntax rather than evidence. They sound like evidence, but are really lacking evidence.

Source: The Power of Words: Advertising Tricks of the Trade published at Washington State University 1996.

The technique of advertisement isn't new. There are traces back to 4000 BC, and as long as we sell more products/services by using it, it will be around.

Source: History of Advertising

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.